Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr Chips (1939)

Used this picture because I thought it was nice, even though it didn’t take place in the film

I have always been interested in finding out more about a nowadays forgotten actor called Robert Donat. I was watching this documentary about him on Youtube and I thought it was really interesting. Naturally, this drew me to his Oscar-winning turn as Charles Edward Chipping in Goodbye, Mr Chips (1939), in which he famously beat iconic performances by Clark Gable (Gone With The Wind) and James Stewart (Mr Smith Goes To Washington).

Goodbye, Mr Chips is an okay film. I actually like the sentimentality and cheesiness of films from this era, unless they become way too manipulative. There isn’t much a story here, it basically follows the lead character throughout the various phases of his life. Greer Garson was nominated for best actress for a really thin supporting performance, but I actually liked her warmth and kindness she displayed for her character, and she was certainly a highlight of the film. I couldn’t stand the scenes with the kids and their horrid acting (creepy kid staring right into your soul at the end as he says goodbye), but at the end of the day, I actually liked the film.

Actually, the main reason why this film worked for me was because of Donat’s central performance; I agree that the part isn’t the most challenging technically and emotionally, but I think Donat added a lot of weight to it, carrying it from the beginning to the end. What worked for me was the fact that Donat really fleshed out each portion of Chips’ life without any false notes. I bought every single one of his scenes, even the older ones with the makeup and more obvious mannerisms. I actually liked how naturally he sold Chips’ changes; from the nervous, naive teacher to the strict disciplinarian to the role model whom everyone looks up to. You always get the sense that Chips’ is learning something new about life, even when he is old and retired. It’s a cliche for sure, but it never feels like it – to me, it was really like following an inspirational figure going throughout his life journey. I always felt for him, and he sells the heartbreaking emotional scenes very well too, especially during the loss of his wife and baby and the war scenes. He also has fantastic chemistry with Garson; the mountain scene was so cheesy and the whole danube thing was super corny as well, but I bought that these 2 people were really in love.

It could be because Donat is quite a charming actor, but I really liked his performance here. I felt for him throughout the film, and overall I thought he did a beautiful and moving job. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but not an Oscar win that I mind too much at all. 4/5

p.s. Rewatched The Theory of Everything. I still find the film kinda boring, but Eddie Redmayne’s performance improved on me quite a bit. I could be feeling extremely lenient (as seen above), but I’m actually willing to bump up the rating to a 3.5 – 4. That being said, I would have to do the unlikely task of re-watching the other nominees like Carell to put things into perspective. I still prefer Felicity Jones’ performance by a mile (she’s almost 4.5 now).

I also watched this horror film called Unfriended. I actually liked it omg.


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